For those that participate in Fantasy Sports, be it NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB, we have all been put in a pressure situation of having to make the right choice with the right pick. We aren't necessarily just talking about the highly presumed top overall picks, though GMs both real and fantasy have been known to botch those, but we are also talking ones that come up later in the draft rounds.
Do you go with the high risk, high reward or sit comfortably with the low risk, low to moderate reward? Are you 110% confident that your scouting staff who has flown all over the country and has been present at the Draft Combine and the individual pre-draft workouts know full well that the player you have a sure fire feeling on is either going to be a vital piece to your future successes or are you hesitant on selecting him and bypass for someone else? How many nights has making the wrong choice kept GMs up at night...
It is hard to call a young player a bust when it comes to pro sports as sometimes individuals need to be in the right place and right situation, as some mature and grasp concepts later than others. However, with that being said, the following twenty individuals who have been selected since 2008 have been mentioned in many conversations when it comes to busts and steals of the NBA Draft.
20 Joe Alexander - 2008 Bust
Chances are that during this era of the NBA, Alexander may have still been a lottery pick. An athletic 6'8" combo forward, Alexander was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the eighth pick in the 2008 draft. Considering he played only two seasons in the NBA, one of which was an eight-game cup of coffee with the Chicago Bulls, a team that he averaged .5ppg for, it is fair to say that Alexander wasn't ready for a NBA career. Pretty much any other player in the first round was a better option for the Bucks, but Nicolas Batum would have been the best fit for Milwaukee.
19 DeAndre Jordan - 2008 Steal
After averaging eight points and six boards in just twenty minutes of play during his one and done at Texas A&M, it wasn't as if there were many expectations of Jordan when he entered the 2008 Draft and selected 35th overall. In fact, most people thought he was making a mistake. It may have taken a couple of years longer than he had hoped but with the right combination of teammates, Jordan has turned into a walking double double and a three-time All-NBA team member.
18 Hasheem Thabeet - 2009 Bust
At 22 years old he was the second overall pick in the 2009 Draft coming out of the University of Connecticut. At 26 years old, he was out of the league. During his rookie year, Thabeet would become the highest drafted player to be sent to the D-League (now G-League). When your rookie year numbers of 3ppg, 3.6rpg and 1.3bpg in thirteen minutes are the best of your career, there is a problem. That problem is now playing over in Japan after three other NBA franchises attempted to give Thabeet a second, third and fourth opportunity to make an impression.
17 Patty Mills - 2009 Steal
He has a championship ring, so automatically he should make the list, right? Yes and no. Not all draft day steals have to post major stats, as evident by Mills' resume, but the one thing that Mills has provided both the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs is a steady hand at the back up point guard position that can either pilot the second unit or occasionally step in with the starting five when called upon. Only three times in his nine year career has Mills averaged double digit points or played more than twenty minutes a game. However odds are if you ask Coach Pop, he is just as valuable as anyone else on the Spurs roster.
16 Ekpe Udoh - 2010 Bust
Raise your hand if you knew that Udoh was on the Utah Jazz roster last season. Liars! The Utah Jazz probably didn't even know that the sixth pick from the 2010 draft was on the team. After bouncing around the league during this first six years, Udoh would find himself signing with a Turkish League team from 2015-2017. Three points and three boards as averages for his career warrent a bust tag, especially when players who were drafted following the Warriors selection, like Paul George, Gordon Hayward numerous others have posted more valuable contributions than Udoh has.
15 Jeremy Lin - 2010 Steal
We might be cheating a bit here, but the real steal of the 2010 Draft class didn't even hear his name being called in either the first or second round. Undrafted after four years at Harvard, Lin would find his first NBA action through the Dallas Mavericks Summer League squad before being picked up as a free agent by the Golden State Warriors. While his time with the Dubs was unmemorable, few can forget the phenomenon that was "Linsanity" during his one season in New York. While he has bounced around the league, wearing seven different jerseys in nine years (Lin is currently signed with the Atlanta Hawks), there is very few better rags to riches stories than what Jeremy Lin has lived.
14 Jan Vesely - 2011 Bust
Back on the 2011 Draft night, many wanted to label Vesely as a stud following his makeout session with his girlfriend after his name was announced by David Stern. Sadly that was his shining NBA moment. When you are drafted sixth overall, you would think that one would start more than 26 games over the course of a three year career. Such was not the case for the forward from the Czech Republic. Understandably it is hard for European players to adapt to the NBA game, but Vesely looked like a deer in headlights every time he hit the court. Fortunately for the 28 year old forward, he has found individual and team success in the Euroleague.
13 Isaiah Thomas - 2011 Steal
Arguments could easily be made that Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, the 15th and 30th pick respectively, could be slotted in here, with Leonard winning a truck load of individual NBA accolades and a NBA championship and Butler turning himself into a four time All-Star and one of the best two way players in the league. However, when you are the 60th pick in the draft and you stand 5'9" and most people cast you aside for a career in Europe but instead you carve out a spot on the All-Rookie Second team and eventually work to be in the conversation of potential MVP candidates - then, you get the nod. Now if only Thomas can find a way to turn around two negative experiences with the Cavaliers and Lakers and return to form with the Denver Nuggets.
12 Thomas Robinson - 2012 Bust
Imagine passing on names like Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes for the former Kansas Jayhawk. Yes the power forward gave promise of talent and potential, but there absolutely no chance that the Sacramento Kings would spend the fifth pick on Robinson again in a do-over draft. Robinson would wear six different jerseys in NBA seasons with his best statistical production coming during his twenty two games with the Philadelphia 76ers, when he averaged 8.8ppg and 7.7rpg. Robinson would play himself out of the NBA, landing in Russia last year before signing a contract with the rebuilding 2018-19 Atlanta Hawks.
11 Draymond Green - 2012 Steal
If you were to draft Draymond today, chances are he would land in the top ten, if not the top five. So how could so many teams misfire back in 2012 and let the Michigan State forward fall all the way to the Golden State Warriors and the 35th pick? After copping a slew of individual awards during his four years as a Spartan, Green would fall in the draft due to the fact that he was a classic tweener during a time in which people couldn't figure out if he had the size to battle traditional power forwards or the talent and speed to counter guys on the perimeter. Three NBA Championships, three All-Stars and a Defensive Player Of The Year later, he has proven all of those people wrong.
10 Anthony Bennett - 2013 Bust
Kwame Brown and Greg Oden may be sending the first overall draft pick Christmas presents until the end of eternity as he has taken the heat off of them for the worst draft pick, EVER. Four teams, four failed opportunities to maintain a NBA career. Heck even his hometown Toronto Raptors couldn't even motivate Bennett to show even a glimpse of a reason as to why the Cleveland Cavaliers would select him with the first overall selection in 2013. Still only 25 years old, Bennett still has some fans out there as NBA G-League teams continue to give him a chance.
9 Rudy Gobert - 2013 Steal
There are some that might say Steven Adams is the best big man from the 2013 Draft, but others will argue that the Stifle Tower, who was selected with the 27th pick is a more valuable man in the middle. To be honest, both are underrated big men, but both have huge value to the success of their respective teams. Last season, Gobert captured the Defensive Player of the Year award and his second spot on the All-Defensive team. As the team's third leading scorer, Gobert has improved his contributions on the offensive end of the court, especially with the absence of Gordon Hayward. However, the Frenchman, who lead the team in win-shares, earns his keep on the defensive side of the floor.
8 Dante Exum - 2014 Bust
We know how hard it can be for a teenager to succeed in the NBA; heck, it's hard for a four year senior to transition from the college ranks to the pros. Now add in the fact that you have to move half way around the world. Exum, who was drafted fifth overall by the Utah Jazz was supposed to be the point guard of the future, but unfortunately he has struggled to remain healthy enough to even live up to a fraction of the potential that Jazz management saw in the youngster. After appearing in all 82 games during his rookie season, an ACL injury derailed his career. Last season, Exum showed a slight improvement in his game, but a shoulder injury limited his season to only 14 games.
7 Nikola Jokic - 2014 Steal
When you are the highest paid player on the roster as the 41st pick from your draft class, you most certainly identify as a "steal". Unless your team is completely incompetent. Howver in the case of the young Serbian big man, the Nuggets have spent their money wisely. Entering into his fourth year, Jokic has turned himself into a walking double double and posted ten triple doubles,leading some to claim the Nuggets centre as the best passing big man in the game. At just 23 years old and the tea leader in scoring, rebounds and assists, Jokic is the focal point for a young and dangerous Denver team that should contend for a playoff spot this season.
6 Mario Hezonja - 2015 Bust
Myles Turner, Devin Booker and even Bobby Portis have shown more value and growth than the fifth overall pick from the class of 2014. After three season in Orlando, Hezonja will try to turn his career around under the brightest of lights in New York City. To be fair to the Croatian forward, Orlando has not been a kind place to rookies over the last few years as evident by players like Victor Oladipo (until he moved onto OKC and Indiana) and Aaron Gordon failing to reach their potential. Touted as a shooter who has the ability to athletically finish at the rim, neither has really shown to be true as Mario has posted a three year average of 41% from the field and 33% from downtown. With the Unicorn sidelined in New York, this could be Super Mario's last chance to shine.
5 Josh Richardson - 2015 Steal
Unless you are a big University of Tennessee fan, you probably had no idea who Richardson was when the Heat selected him with the 40th pick in 2015. Considering that he didn't even get invited to the NBA Draft Combine, who could blame you for not knowing. Two years after LeBron left South Beach, the Heat were looking for a replacement at the three spot. Now not to say that Richardson is anywhere near James, considering his rookie line consisted of 6 points a night in 21 minutes of action. However year two and three of his career, Richardson showed Coach Spolstra and GM Pat Riley that he might be worthy of a full time starting role (which he was in 2017-18), as he bumped his stats across the board.
4 Dragan Bender - 2016 Bust
Let's call it what it was: the 2016 Draft class, aside from Ben Simmons, can pretty much be summed up by three letters - "meh". Sure there is thought that Brandon Ingram is going to turn into Kevin Durant 2.0 and Jaylen Brown is going to turn into a modern day version of Scottie Pippen, and Kris Dunn will be an All-Star point guard, but at this stage none of those appear realistic. As for the Suns decision to draft Bender with the fourth pick, it shows volumes that they thought so much of the rookie forward that they drafted another power forward just a few picks later. This year, they not only drafted another seven footer, but they also added another forward to the mix with a free agent price tag of $20 million. Not exactly a resounding sense of belief in the young man from Croatia.
3 Malcolm Brogdon - 2016 Steal
As said the 2016 Draft class wasn't exactly star studded, but the fact that Brogdon fell to the 36th pick surprised many. As the 2016 Rookie Of The Year, Brogdon averaged 10ppg, 4apg and 2rpg for the Milwaukee Bucks. For those that still questioned as to whether or not Brogdon belonged in the league, something that comes up often about second round picks, just reflect back to that cold wet night in December of 2016. The Cavs were in town and Brogdon was dancing around late in the third quarter before heading over to the right side of the court, turning the corner and attacking the hoop for a vicious one handed reverse cram on top of the Chosen One. Welcome to the league rookie!
2 Jonathan Isaac - 2017 Bust
It's extremely hard to label a rookie as a bust, especially one who is only twenty years old, but the sixth pick from last year's draft didn't really do much to impress his coach Frank Vogel or any of the Orlando fans. Put it this way, after drafting Issac last year, the Magic selected Mo Bamba with the sixth pick this year. Yes, Magic big man Nikola Vucevic is a free agent next year, but it's not like they are going to start Mo over a career 15ppg and 10rpg big man, so that means that Isaac gets pushed back down the depth chart at the power forward spot. And let's not forget Aaron Gordon, who could possibly be pushed to the small forward position should Coach Clifford decide to go big. It's not as though Issac can't play, it's just going to be a matter of figuring out where and when he gets floor time in order to show that he is better than his 5.4ppg and 3.7rpg rookie stat line.
1 Kyle Kuzma - 2017 Steal
As a rookie, the 27th pick in the draft was thought by many to be a throw-in as part of the D'Angelo Russell / Brook Lopez deal. If by "throw-in" you mean the leading scorer and fourth best rebounder on the team, then pretty much every franchise in the league will hope to have a throw-in like Kuz. Heck, there are some who believe that Kuzma is more valuable to the Lakers than the number two pick Lonzo Ball. There is definitely a solid case for the former Utah Utes forward. With 16 points and over 6 rebounds a game, whether he was a starter or coming off the pine, Kuzma showed enough value to deserve a spot on the All-Rookie First Team. His much more heralded teammate, well, he was a member of the second squad.